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The next few weeks passed quickly and, for the first time for as long as she could remember
, some routine and order had come into her life. She even caught herself singing quietly to
herself. That is something I never do she thought to herself. Could be I am even happy and
that?s a novelty she had giggled.
Careful buying in charity shops had brought a feeling of homeliness to the small flat and the purchase of a slow cooker had provided her with wholesome, tasty and cheap meals that were very necessary now that autumn was turning to winter.
As winter closed in the tops as the fell walkers called the high peaks in the Lake District donned their raw and threatening winter persona. She wondered who she could trust to contact to send her her clothes especially the thicker warmer ones. It was only when she realised the trusted friend need not be female that she came up with the obvious person. It had to be Simon. Simon who had hidden her when Jack was in a violent mood. Simon who had bought her a week?s groceries when Jack had taken her dole money to feed his habit. Simon who had begged her to get well away from Jack. Simon who had realised the futility of giving her money. Simon who was gay.
She had rung Simon at the book shop where he worked. Simon had listened as she told him her news. Then he had delivered a bombshell. Jack was dead. Apparently a bad drug batch had killed him and several other addicts. Try as she might she could not face going back even to collect the rest of her belongings. She rang Simon again and he agreed to pack the remainder of her stuff and send it on to her.
After the second phone call to Simon she felt free, free, free.
No sunshine, no warmth, November. But still she found she was in good spirits. The job was going well and her boss, Mr Knights, was pleased enough with her efforts to have given her a rise in pay. With warm clothes on her back she thought about the months ahead. Christmas looked like being a lonely time. Her landlady was going away to spend Christmas with friends but had said she could use the kitchen downstairs if she wanted to cook a proper Christmas dinner. She giggled at the thought of still eating turkey risotto at Easter.
But she felt she should mark her first truly independent Christmas in some way. But how? She had not met many people, her job did not bring her into contact with people and certainly she had not made any friends. Windermere in the winter was not exactly heaving under the strain of vast crowds. The only people she saw regularly worked in the shops where she bought her scant provisions, the library which she visited once or twice a week and, of course, the charity shops where she sought out bit and pieces to make her attic into a home.
She was also reluctant to seek the company of others. She had been such a lousy chooser of friends and lovers in the past that the thought of making yet another mistake terrified her. However the pleasure of being always on her own, free to do as pleased was beginning to pall and she realised she would have to make an effort soon or being alone and enjoying solitude would become being lonely. An altogether different feeling and one she wanted to avoid.
She sat in the creaky bentwood chair beside the brightly burning fire the silence broken by the wind and quarrelling gulls and vowed to find, if not friends, some acquaintances she could spend some time with. ?That, should you accept it, is your mission? she said to herself in a very bad American accent.
The following Saturday the first in December she was up bright and early determined to catch an early bus for Ambleside to see the Christmas decorations.
There was the whiff of snow in the air and as she got off the bus the first flakes started to fall. She giggled as she passes the sign to the park and Aira Force. Her knowledge of a park was somewhere with a couple of tennis courts, some football pitches and a band stand so the first time she had ventured to Aira Force had found her totally unprepared for the rugged trails and steep walking.
Having looked round Ambleside and visited the glass works more for the warmth than the show put on by the glass blowers skilful though they were. She sought out a coffee shop and settled for a Ham sandwich and coffee. She sensed rather than saw through the steamed up windows that the snow was falling thicker and faster.
She became aware of someone approaching her table and looking up saw a youngish man who she had often seen in the library in Windermere. He sat himself at her table having first asked her permission. They chatted away she told Alan for that was his name about her attic flat and her job. Alan told her that he taught English and wrote poetry, romantic poetry he confessed and she had laughed, a rare occurrence, and described him and his poetry as hopelessly romantic he had grinned and said ?No it?s much worse than that you see I am hopefully romantic.?
Everything had become unfocussed as if it was being viewed through a distorting mirror. She could hear a voice from the end of a long empty corridor. ?Is she awaking? hello, hello.?
Slowly she opened her eyes, trying to move she became aware of the restraints and it all came back to her. The kitchen knife, the blood stained blouse, Jack trying to stop her injecting herself with the needle?s contents. Jack?s body lying in a pool of blood.
Oh god she moaned which is the hallucination, which is my real life, are they both hallucinations.
Sobbing softly to herself she fell back into her trance-like slumber hoping to restart her dream.
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